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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

June 14, 2010 at 2:25 PM

UPDATED — Big 12 survives, Texas to stay put

In the past few minutes, both the AP and The Oklahoman have reported that the Big 12 is likely to survive, meaning the Pac-16 is dead. UPDATE — And around 4 p.m., Texas made an official statement on its website it is staying put.
The Oklahoman reported that the league is close to announcing a long-term deal to keep the 10-team Big 12 together (which makes as much sense as much of the rest of this has). The key is new-found TV money to make it worth it for everyone to stay put, as well as allowing the two kings of the hill — Texas and Oklahoma — to form their own TV networks and, apparently, keep all the money.
The AP’s report is similar, emphasizing that one of the keys is that Texas will get to form its own TV network and keep all the money. (Here’s more on the money aspect of this from the Austin American-Statesman that reports the Pac-10 opposed Texas starting up its own TV network).
4 P.M. UPDATE — Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is now confirming that Texas will not be coming to the Pac-10 and will stay in the Big 12, this via the Dallas Morning News. The Associated Press now also has a confirmation. (Also, an interesting item from the Denver Post on how Texas may have tried to strong-arm the Pac-10 at the last minute).
So, if the Big 12 survives, what this means for the Pac-10 is almost certainly settling for a two-team expansion, to 12, and shortly inviting Utah. One source told the Times today that it’s not thought the Pac-10 is considering anyone else to invite and it appears an invite of Utah could happen fairly soon.
As for how a 12-team conference will look, word is that that has not been heavily discussed yet with the emphasis having been on the 16-team scenario. As I noted earlier, it’s not a done deal that there would necessarily be two divisions. There could be just one 12-team league. But again, sounds as if they have not gotten very far on that yet. UPDATE — Jon Wilner is reporting there will definitely be a championship game worth $10 million annually.
So if, as it appears, the Pac-16 doesn’t come to fruition, is this a defeat for the Pac-10? Certainly, it’s something of a comedown for those who were already counting the money that would have come the Pac-10’s way, and for fans who were exciting by the prospect of regular visits from the likes of Texas and Oklahoma.
Worth remembering that the move to aggressively court Colorado was done in part as something of a first strike on the Big 12, hoping it might help further hasten the collapse of that conference and lead to Texas and the rest coming West. So going after Colorado was strategic on several fronts.
And who knows how long a new-fangled Big 12 will last? Could be everyone is back at this point again in a few years?
But the Pac-10 knew that adding two teams might ultimately all that would come of this, and gave the okay for that at the meeting in San Francisco the weekend before last. Word is that the conference presidents and CEOs were told it would still result in a hefty fattening of the pocket book, adding the No, 16 (Denver) and No. 31 (Salt Lake City) TV markets, if nowhere near the jackpot expect of the Pac-16.
Given the challenging financial conditions in college athletics, every added dollar is greatly valued by those running departments, so I think this will be regarded as still a win-win.
Until we see exactly how a 12-team Pac-10 will work, we have to hold out judgment a little bit on whether this is a similar win for the fans.
What we know for sure, however, is that a 12-team Pac-10 will kill what was one of the conference’s most cherished attributes — that it had a true football champion that had played each of the other teams.
What is also becoming clear is that Texas can apparently do about whatever it wants. It wanted to stay in the Big 12 but also wanted the ability to basically do whatever it wants to maximize its own profit (something that getting rid of Nebraska aids in greatly). As others have already noted, Texas will now get all of that while also being able to claim that it saved the Big 12.
(And while there are reports the Big 12 may try to add a TCU or BYU, most figure the Big 12 will stay at 10 for now, if for not other reason than so it doesn’t have to split that $20 million or so combined that Colorado and Nebraska will have to pay on their wait out among any more schools).
If this all does come down this way today, it also appears that there will have been an awful lot of huffing and puffing for what ultimately was very little real action — CU and Utah to the Pac-10, Nebraska to the Big Ten, Boise State to the Mountain West and that’s it.

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